Opinion | Real solutions to reduce plastic pollution

To the editor:

Re To Keep Plastic Out of Oceans, Start With Rivers, by Boyan Slat (Opinion guest essay, May 28):

When your bathtub overflows, what’s the first thing you do? Find a broom or turn off the faucet?

Unfortunately, Mr. Slats projects for collecting plastic in water are mops. Big, expensive, technical mops, but still mops.

Meanwhile, the plastic pollution faucet remains wide open. Plastic production is estimated to triple over the next three decades.

Only 9% of all plastic waste ever produced since the inception of this industry has been recycled. Also, much of the ocean plastic sinks and is out of reach of surface mops. So the mop strategy was tried. He has failed.

The effective solution, evident in the history of other anti-pollution campaigns, is to stop the problem at its source. That’s why California, Canada, Chile, France and the European Union have passed laws mandating reductions in single-use plastic production.

Unfortunately, Mr. Slat’s plastic cleanup strategy distracts consumers, politicians and philanthropists from the real solution, which is winning tough single-use plastic pollution policies nationally and internationally.

Andrew Sharpless
Washington
The author is CEO of Oceana, an international advocacy organization dedicated to ocean conservation.

To the editor:

As the second of five negotiating sessions for a global plastics treaty has just come to a close, we cannot afford to prepare for a future where humanity will use more plastics, not less, as Boyan Slat proposes.

A decade ago, when Mr. Slat started Ocean Cleanup, people mistakenly focused on plastic pollution as an ocean litter problem. But we now know that toxic plastics and the particles they release pollute the Earth’s air, soil and waters, as well as plants, animals and our bodies.

Plastic warms the climate. They pollute during the extraction and refining of their fossil fuel ingredients and during their production, transportation, storage, use and disposal. Plastic pollution disproportionately harms low-income and rural neighborhoods, as well as Black, Indigenous, and other people in communities of color.

An effective global plastics treaty will recognize the total costs of plastics, dramatically reduce industrial plastic production, and implement the plastic-free reuse, refill, repair, and share systems we need to eliminate waste rather than allow the problem to get worse by distracting us. with false solutions such as cleaning and recycling.

Erica Cirino
Washington
The writer is communications manager for the Plastic Pollution Coalition and author of Denser than water: the search for solutions to the plastic crisis.

To the editor:

King Trump Wants to Celebrate Like It’s 1776, by Michelle Cottle (Opinion, June 5):

This has nothing to do with America and everything to do with Donald Trump. He needs his herd to come to him for his help as he is unable to fight for himself as he tries to keep the criminal charges brought against him at bay.

The big tough guy will use his MAGA army to fight his battle for him. He will use American sentimentality as his tool as he lies to oust our democracy and install himself as our monarch in chief.

There are so many Americans willing to wave the Trump flag next to the American flag, it’s really alarming.

Bob Bacelli
Seaford, New York

To the editor:

Turkey’s election is a warning about Trump (column, May 31):

While Bret Stephens is correct in pointing out how Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan exploited nationalism to win re-election and what it could mean for Donald Trump, he failed to point out how Western leaders allowed this unlikely victory to happen despite Turkish economic conditions.

For more than 20 years, US presidents of both political parties have turned a blind eye to Erdogan’s growing authoritarianism and egregious behavior by holding him accountable and turning to Ankara’s role in NATO as a geopolitical compromise. This type of transactional diplomacy is not only dangerous, it also provides cover for despots like Mr. Erdogan who feel they can say and do what they please with impunity.

In many ways, Erdogan’s victory says more about us than about him. We have only ourselves to blame.

Stephan Pechdimaldji
San Ramon, California.

To the editor:

Broadway musicians take on David Byrnes Here Lies Love (Arts, June 1):

It’s not just Broadway musicians who should object to injecting all recorded music onto a Broadway stage. People who come to Broadway expect more than they might experience in some local production.

Theater is a living art. Audiences want to see and hear live actors and musicians. Asking people to spend hundreds of dollars listening to canned music is not enough. Broadways branding is first class. Canned music is not.

I have another reason to support the musicians union: Before I was a first night critic, I was an artist. Often our only breaks from rehearsals came thanks to union support.

Leiden Snow
New York
The author is a former WINS-AM critic.

To the editor:

Re AI poses risk of extinction, tech leaders warn (front page, May 31):

The 350+ leaders in AI aren’t the only people scared shitless of this rapidly evolving technology.

Two-thirds of American adults believe that generative AI poses a threat to humanity, according to a national survey we conducted. Furthermore, more than four out of five agree that it would be easy for someone to misuse technology to do harm. The majority also believe that regulation is justified.

Business is clearly enamored with the power of AI, but across all income and education levels, society fears this new marvel could be the atomic bomb of the 21st century.

Will Johnson
Chicago
The author is the CEO of the Harris Poll.

To the editor:

Re Advisory Says Teens Face Risks on Social Sites (front page, May 24):

While I agree with the sentiment in the article about Surgeon Generals warning that social media can harm children and adolescents, I wonder why there isn’t more emphasis on what we can do versus what we shouldn’t do with social media .

As an aging millennial, I know social media is here to stay. What if instead we invested in the promotion of content that improves, not harms, the lives of users?

Numerous research shows that engaging in arts education builds strength throughout the lifespan and in the very functioning of our brain. As the pandemic has held true for many, myself included, social media is a robust art and arts education platform, from YouTube tutorials to artist communities on Facebook to TikTok’s short-form content teaching techniques.

Young people deserve the time and space to engage in the visual learning of arts education, which may very well start with the social media we fear.

Lindsey Frances Jones
New York

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